What led you to choose science and/or engineering as a career, particularly in the medical device field?
I first became aware of the impact of hearing loss as a teenager while working at Ponderosa, a local restaurant. I worked at the salad bar alongside a fellow teenage girl who was deaf. It was an incredibly frustrating experience because of our limited ability to communicate; we often relied on handwritten notes and basic hand gestures.
At the time, I was unaware that there were several professions dedicated to hearing loss, but the experience was one that I would never forget. When I got to college and leafed through the course catalog, I discovered the field of audiology, and the memories of Ponderosa came flooding back. The rest was history.
What has been your most rewarding moment/accomplishment as an engineer/scientist in the medical field?
Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States, affecting over 48 million people. This fact drives me forward because I know that the work I do, along with the thousands of my WS Audiology colleagues, ensures that people with hearing loss can still enjoy the sounds that make life wonderful. My passion and commitment to this cause perpetually drive me forward.
What advice would you give to other women looking to work in biomedical engineering and science?
When I was young, I was not exposed to the possibility of pursuing a career in STEM. To create change, it’s crucial to provide young girls with access to programs and organizations that encourage them to embrace math and science. My 11-year-old daughter has been actively involved with Girl Scouts, which has come a long way from just selling cookies. In fact, they have developed a robust STEM program that teaches girls to think critically, solve problems with out-of-the-box ideas, and challenge the status quo.
There are many other programs out there to support young girls’ development in STEM. It should be seen as an obligation for parents, teachers, and corporations to continue not only to encourage, but to provide access to these programs, so that more women actively pursue careers in math and science.
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